This trip was inspired by a map: the wonderful AAA California "Bay and Mountain Section" map, which has the San Francisco Bay on the left and the Sierras on the right, highlighted by Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. I'd always wanted to visit those two places, along with Kings Canyon National Park (just in the lower right corner), and the map makes them look so tantalizingly close.... So I thought of a week-long bicycle trip visiting all three, from bottom to top, and returning home. However it didn't seem like it could be done comfortably in a week.
When I told my friend Mike Vermeulen, an extremely experienced touring cyclist, about this in April, he said he had been thinking of cycling to Reno and taking the train home as a first segment of a longer trip which would next take him from Reno to Colorado. I normally like to start and end my trips at home, but taking the train back solved the major problems of how to fit the trip into a week as well as how to get home without too much suffering (assuming the prevailing wind is from the West, which it is). So we decided to combine our trips and I created a rough plan for the trip which would have us in Reno in 7 days, alowing 2 extra days for side trips (one recommended to me was to visit Mammoth Lakes) and possible problems. The main constraint was being able to stay overnight in Yosemite Valley, but I managed to get reservations for a tent cabin in Curry Village on the night of June 21. We also made reservations in Lee Vining, since it was essential we stop there after the climb up to Tioga Pass, and in Mariposa since it was clear we'd stop there the day before Yosemite. There was another worry that Tioga Road would still be closed, but it opened at the end of May in plenty of time.
As this would be my first multi-day tour Mike suggested a shorter practice trip to San Luis Obispo over Memorial Day weekend following the standard Pacific Coast route that he had already taken the year before. That was an excellent trip itself and is documented here.
This trip turned out to be really fun, and I highly recommend it. We ended up skipping visiting Mammoth Lakes this time, since the three previous days had been so tiring, but next time I would certainly add a side trip there and try to spend more time in Yosemite as well. We compressed the last three days into two. Originally the plan was to bike from Lee Vining to Topaz Lake, then Topaz Lake to Incline Villiage, and then a short ride to Reno on Friday and catch the 2pm bus/train. However there is also a 9am bus connecting to Amtrak in Sacramento which would get us back to San Jose at 4:15pm rather than 9pm, which would mean a nicer ride back to Palo Alto for me. Also Reno would be a lot cheaper to stay overnight than Incline Villiage. So we tried and succeeded to do this last part in two days, and in fact at the last minute Mike thought of the idea of renting a minivan to drive home, which was faster and cheaper than staying overnight in Reno and then taking the train.
Mike is making his own web page for this trip which I'll reference once it's complete, and took his own set of pictures some of which I may use here later with appropriate credit. All my pictures were taken with an Olympus D-400 Zoom digital camera, and Mike's were taken with an Olympus D-340L digital camera.
For the details and pictures of each day, click on the appropriate segment.
|19||Saturday||Palo Alto to San Jose to Turlock||108|
|20||Sunday||Turlock to Mariposa||66|
|21||Monday||Mariposa to Curry Village||51|
|22||Tuesday||Curry Villiage to Lee Vining||80|
|23||Wednesday||Lee Vining to Gardnerville||91|
|24||Thursday||Gardnerville to Reno||100|
Total trip length 496 miles. Ended at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, where we rented a minivan one-way to San Jose, arriving in the Bay Area just after midnight on Friday.
Return to John Leo's cycling page.